Two US officials say the US is deploying surveillance drones in the southern Black Sea following last week’s collision between a Russian jet and an American drone.
The drone was stuck in international airspace, but after a Russian jet collided with an MQ-9 Reaper drone last Tuesday, the US moved the plane. drones out of the Crimean peninsula and east of the Black Sea. to the sea.
One official said the line was part of an effort to be “not overly provocative” as the Biden administration remained vigilant to avoid any incidents that could lead to a direct confrontation between US and Russian forces.
The official said the drones would continue to fly this route “for now” but added that there was “interest” in returning to flights near Russian-held territory. Officials say Russia may try to unilaterally close more airspace over southern and eastern Ukraine to force US drones to fly further.
On Tuesday, commercial flight tracking website FlightRadar24 showed the US RQ-4 Global Hawk aircraft at an altitude of about 52,000 feet south and southwest of the Black Sea.
Pentagon spokesman General Pat Reid on Tuesday said the United States would continue to use drones over the Black Sea and “fly in international airspace in accordance with international law.” However, he declined to say if the US had changed its route or mission profile after a US surveillance drone encountered two Russian warplanes last week.
“For operational safety, I cannot go into details about the route, mission, timetable, etc.,” Ryder said at a press conference.
Last week, two Russian Sukhoi Su-27 fighter jets intercepted a US MQ-9 Reaper drone flying in international airspace over the Black Sea. One of the planes then collided with a surveillance drone, damaging its propeller and forcing it to fall.
After the incident, CNN reported on drone flights in the United States over the Black Sea, including potential routes, altitudes, risks, etc., expressing appreciation. The purpose of the assessment was to assess the intelligence gathered by the mission against the escalating threat to Russia.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said after the incident that the US “will continue to fly and operate wherever international law allows.” Officials said another MQ-9 Reaper drone was flying over the same area as the one in the Black Sea to survey the crash site while the US investigation continued.
A few days later, an American RQ-4 Global Hawk flew over the southern part of the Black Sea and entered the eastern part of the waterway near Russian territory, FlightRadar24 reported.